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JENNIFER SMITH

WE SAT DOWN WITH FORMER PAYFC PLAYER JENNIFER FOR A CHAT ABOUT HER CAREER TO FAR:-

Many congratulations on your call up to the under 19’s national squad, how does it feel when you have been selected for your country? 

 It is an absolute honour to be able to get selected for my country. It is a one in a life time opportunity that doesn’t come around for many people. I’m very delighted to be able to make the step up to under 19's from 17's. 

Playing in a major tournament with a home crowd cheering you on will be amazing, your friends and family must be proud?

 Being able to play in Scotland with a home crowd will be amazing as it gives my friends and family an opportunity to watch me play for Scotland as many of my previous friendly matches and tournaments have been held abroad. My friends and family are extremely proud of me as a young player to be selected to play in the 19's finals. 

Take us back to the beginning, how did you get into football?

 One Saturday morning, me and my dad went along to Penicuik High School where we met Keith Wright. A presentation was held in our local Leisure centre which we then headed over to the Penicuik astro where we took part in small sided games. Keith put us into three teams which were a boys team, mixed team and an all girls team which I was a part off.

At school were you mostly playing against boys or were there enough girls getting involved?

 At school I was mostly playing against boys as not many girls were involved in the school games. Many girls thought of it as a rough sport and would not contribute to the small sided games which we would do for fun at break and lunch times. 

There is a real buzz about girls/ladies football at the moment, in your opinion what needs to be done to keep the momentum going?

 I think that that the SFA need to keep promoting young girls football so that it opens windows for young people to be involved in football just like myself.

How did you get involved in PAYFC and what was it like having your dad as one of the coaches?

 I was involved with Eskmill football club which then later became Penicuik athletic. My dad Gordon smith, became a coach the same day I had my first Saturday morning training session. He became a coach to Eskmill with Robbie Horn and Debbie Graig who took the whole girls team. We later became one big team, which we would compete against other teams such as Bonnyrigg Rose and Hibs etc.

 Do you have any special memories of your time at PAYFC that you would like to share with us?

 My favourite moment with PAYFC would have to be when we won the Haley Lauder cup against Loanhead football team. It was an emotional experience for the whole team as we had all come so far together to get to this moment. On that day I received player of the match and was able to lift the trophy with my best friend Lucy Horn who I started my journey with as a footballer.

Can you tell us a bit about your move to Hearts, how are you finding it?

 After Penicuik Athletic were no longer a team  I had  opportunity to join Hibs, Bonnyrigg Rose and Hearts. From those offers I chose to go to Hearts. Not long after at the age of 14, I was asked to join the Hearts first team /ladies. As a player at Hearts women first team, we are currently play in the SWPL2 league who are looking for promotion this year. I found my move to Hearts brilliant as I am able to develop as a player with my understanding of the game and also my technical ability through hard work and dedication that I put into training and games. The SWPL2 league is a very competitive league which has helped me grow stronger as a player. 

How vital are local clubs like PAYFC in the development of young players?

 I think local clubs are very beneficial for the development of young players as they open windows to boys and girls further in football. I definitely think that PAYFC opened a window for me as a young player which I was asked to join teams to further my development. 

 Finally, I’m sure you have played on it a number of times now, but how important is it for clubs like ours to have access to astro pitches for training and playing on?

 I think it is brilliant that clubs such as PAYFC are able to access astro pitches because it helps players develop better as they are able to have the opportunity to train on pitches similar to what they will be playing on game days. This allows players to be familiar to astro pitches to help them with their technical ability.